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ICC names top Kenyan suspects in election violence

By Faith Karimi and David McKenzie, CNN
People watch prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo name six Kenyans suspected of organizing the post-election violence of 2007.
People watch prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo name six Kenyans suspected of organizing the post-election violence of 2007.
  • The deputy prime minister is among the six suspects named
  • President urges restrain as the judicial process starts
  • The disputed 2007 election left hundreds dead and led to the formation of a coalition government
  • Hundreds of thousands were displaced

(CNN) -- The International Criminal Court named six Kenyan leaders, including the deputy prime minister, Wednesday suspected of organizing violence after the disputed 2007 election.

The violence left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

ICC top Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo released the anticipated list, which had left the political elite in the east African nation restless. The list sparked excitement across the nation, where crowds had gathered around televisions to watch a live broadcast.

"This has taken too long, the displaced are still living in camps years later, justice is finally being served," said Martin Kamau, 30, who was watching the announcement in his living room with 20 friends.

President Mwai Kibaki said calls for action against the suspects are "prejudicial and preemptive," and urged restraint during the investigation.

Those found responsible will be held accountable for their crimes as individuals.
--U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The people who have been mentioned have not yet been fully investigated as the pre-trial process in The Hague has only but begun," he said in a statement after the names were released. "They, therefore, cannot be judged as guilty until the charges are confirmed by the court."

U.S. President Barack Obama, noting that Kenya is "moving away from impunity and divisionism toward an era of accountability and equal opportunity," urged the nation's leaders to cooperate with the ICC investigation.

"Those found responsible will be held accountable for their crimes as individuals. No community should be singled out for shame or held collectively responsible. Let the accused carry their own burdens -- and let us keep in mind that under the ICC process they are innocent until proven guilty," he said.

The six will be charged with crimes against humanity, the international court said. Court officials will decide whether to issue warrants or summon suspects to appear voluntarily.

Names on the list include deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, former Police Chief Hussein Ali, and former Agriculture Minister William Ruto.

Kenyatta, a 2002 presidential candidate and son of the nation's first president, also serves as the finance minister.

"I don't think it will have much impact, our work will continue, the government will continue, we are a mature country that can handle its issues," Kenyatta said.

Joshua Arap Sang, a senior journalist at an ethnic radio station, and Henry Kosgey, chairman of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, are also named.

Muthaura said he will voluntarily go to The Hague if summoned by the pre-trial judges.

"The suggestion that I've done anything to warrant criminal investigation, it is manifest nonsense," said Muthaura. "This has slandered my reputation and is unjustified."

The disputed presidential election sparked chaos that escalated into ethnic violence between supporters of incumbent Kibaki and current Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Kenya's coalition government, which formed after the postpoll chaos, promised action. One of the chief promises was the formation of a tribunal to try the perpetrators of violence. So far, the government has not formed a tribunal.

Ocampo has vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Kenya will be a world example on managing violence," he said last year.

Ocampo has said the International Criminal Court would prosecute those most responsible and other perpetrators would be subject to national accountability proceedings using the special tribunal.

"We don't want to let foreigners drag this country to the dogs," said Beth Mugo, the Kenyan health minister. "We have come to a cross roads, do we want to keep our country sovereign or do we want our country to become a failed state?"